The report released today by FARE once again seeks to sensationalise Australians drinking during covid, by suggesting an increase in retail sales led to higher volume of alcohol sold, rather than that Australians were paying more for their drinks and hospitality was largely closed.
CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia, Andrew Wilsmore said “Australians didn’t drink more during the pandemic, they merely changed the sales channel with beers, wines and spirits being purchased at the bottle shop, rather than pubs, clubs and restaurants. The closure or limits on hospitality, sport and family gatherings has significantly reduced occasion based drinking, and the reality is that as many as half a million jobs were lost and proud businesses have been forced to close.
“Packaged liquor sales are a value number, rather than a direct indicator of volume. Australians have modified their drinking habits during covid and are choosing to spend a little more on a premium product, or are conscious of their wellbeing which has seen the sales of zero-alcohol products more than double.”
Obviously these two trends would lead to higher value sales of alcohol, but do not necessary equate to more alcohol being consumed.
Mr Wilsmore said “The value of alcohol sales also naturally increases twice a year due to the Government indexing tax rates on beer and spirits to inflation.
“Covid has been a challenging time for many Australians, so it has been pleasing to see the additional Government support into treatment and rehabilitation, and that our own industry commitments to responsible marketing and consumption are taken seriously.
“A number of studies have confirmed that while some Australians did increase their consumption, a larger number of Australians reduced their drinking, particularly younger Australians who were denied the ability to socialise in hospitality and entertainment venues.
ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods COVID-19 monitoring program:
- More Australians reduced their drinking (27%) than those who have increased (20.2%).
- The change was more pronounced among those who have reduced their drinking, with 12% of them saying that it decreased by a little, and 15% saying it decreased by a lot.
- Of those whose drinking increased, just 3.5% said it had increased by a lot and 16.8% saying it increased by a little. For nearly half of those drinking more (45.8%), the increase had only been 1-2 standard drinks in a week.
Australian Institute Health & Welfare
Source: AIHW – Reports
- The vast majority (83.2%) of people drink moderately or abstain, a 4.2 percentage improvement from 2001 and the highest on record.
- Australians are increasingly abstaining from alcohol altogether, with 20.9% of legal age drinkers choosing not to drink in the previous 12 months, a statistically significant increase from 2016 (19.5% abstainers).
- Younger drinkers (people aged in their 20s) are drinking more responsibly than any generation before, with 62% consuming four standard drinks or less on one occasion in a month in 2019, compared to 49% in 2001.
- 22% of people in their 20s are avoiding alcohol, compared to 8.9% in 2001.
- 72% 14–17-year-olds have never had had a drink before turning 18, compared to 44% in 2001.
- The age of initiation (first drink) has risen from 14.7 years old in 2001 to 2 years in 2019,
Andrew Wilsmore – Chief Executive Officer
Ph: 0403 570 407